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Going beyond the label: Exploring the diversity of NEETs

News   •   Jul 12, 2016 08:00 BST

(Dublin, Ireland): In 2015, 12% of young people aged 15–24 in Europe were not in employment, education or training (NEET). Although recent statistics show an improvement in the labour market situation of young people, Eurofound’s new report ‘Exploring the diversity of NEETs’ emphasises the ongoing need to focus on the specific needs of different groups of young people who are NEET. The report argues that a comprehensive effort is needed to understand the diversity of NEETs as the various subgroups within the NEET category have very different characteristics and needs.

Since 2010 the concept of NEETs has been widely used as a tool to inform youth-oriented policies at both EU and national level. The NEET indicator has helped to understand the common features of young people not involved in the labour market or education and has been important for the development of the Youth Guarantee, which aims to ensure that all young people under 25 get a good-quality offer of a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.

The ‘Exploring the diversity of NEETs’report, which is accompanied by a country by country overview, presents an up-to-date picture of the situation of NEETs in the EU and includes an analysis of NEET rates over time, the gender composition of the NEET group, educational attainment, and risk of social exclusion. With regards to the current status of NEETs, it shows that fewer than one in three NEETs across the EU are short-term unemployed, more than one in five are now long-term unemployed and roughly the same proportion are NEET due to family responsibilities, or due to illness or disability.

This report examines the NEET indicator and uses EU Labour Force Survey data to disaggregate the NEET population into seven subgroups. It provides an analysis based on the data available for each subgroup and describes the composition and characteristics of Europe’s NEET population at both EU28 level and in each Member State.

The report shows that the composition of NEETs varies greatly across Europe. For example, in Nordic, western and continental countries, the largest groups are generally the short-term unemployed, while in some southern and Mediterranean countries the shares of long-term unemployed and discouraged workers are higher. In eastern European countries, the majority of NEETs are women, who are NEET due to family responsibilities. Understanding the composition of NEETs in Europe is important for the effective implementation of the Youth Guarantee.

The NEET concept has been an extremely powerful tool in focusing public opinion and policymakers’ attention on the labour market problems of young people. However, given the heterogeneity captured by the NEET indicator, governments and social partners should better target their policy interventions by taking into account the different characteristics and needs of the various subgroups within the NEET population.

Download the latest reports:

Supporting information:

Eurofound’s pioneering 2012 report ‘NEETs - Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe’ is available here

For further information, contact:

  • Massimiliano Mascherini, Research Manager, email or telephone: +353-1-204 3108
  • Stefanie Ledermaier, Research Officer, email or telephone: +353-1-204 3220

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